One of the reasons you may be experiencing more headaches at certain times of the year is due to the amount of pollen in your area. Pollen is a powder that contains seed plants that is part of nature’s reproductive cycle. Unfortunately for us, this may disturb our sinuses, creating inflammation that leads to pressure because of swelling of the membranes in the lining of these cavities. Pain may occur because air, puss and mucus may be trapped in the sinus area.
As usual, there is a lot of controversy as to what constitutes a true sinus headache. Some say a sinus headache has to be part of the symptoms associated with sinusitis. This is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses from infection, allergy and sometimes may be part of autoimmune issues. Most headaches have a sinus-related component such as runny eyes and nose and pain in the sinus area. Migraines, in particular are known to bring on sinus symptoms.
The one thing to pay attention to is the color of the mucus – if it is clear or slightly milky looking there is probably no need for concern. If it is darker in color it may be part of a bigger problem. In this case, making an appointment with your health care practitioner would be a good idea.
So, enough of all these facts…. You’re probably wondering what you can do about your sinus-related headaches. I’ve got some ideas I’d like to share based on feedback from my massage clients and the regular research I do on headaches and health in general.
-Don’t bend over forward if you don’t have to. This seems to worsen symptoms.
-Get rest, keeping your head elevated.
-Put an essential oil such as eucalyptus or peppermint on your palms and rub together. Then slightly cup your hands and bring them up in front of your face (about 2-3″ away) and just breathe deeply for a few minutes.
-You can also take those same oils and put a few drops in a pot of steaming water. Then drape a towel around it to hold in the moisture and put your head underneath the towel. Breathing in the moist air with the oils will help drain the sinuses. It works better when you use oils but if you don’t have any you can just use steaming water.
-Try using a neti pot. You can purchase one at most health food stores. Irritants such as pollens are washed away with nasal irrigation. It also increases drainage by shrinking sinus membranes.
-Drink warm or hot fluids as these also increase drainage, loosening congestion. One tea that is especially beneficial is fresh ginger tea. After boiling the water let the cut up ginger steep for a few minutes then drink.
-Eating spicy foods, especially jalapenos, can also increase drainage.
-Something else you can try is to alternate hot and cold compresses either on the top of the head or directly on the sinus area. Of course, you need to make sure you don’t burn or freeze your face where the skin may be more reactive.
-Squeeze along the eyebrows with your thumb and the side of your pointer finger. When you get to the area just under the eyebrow where it meets the top of where it goes down into the nose you will find a sensitive spot. Press up into this area with your thumb as it will help release sinus pressure.
-Run your pointer fingers down the side of the bridge of the nose and out and under the cheekbone. When you get to the nostrils press deeply in here from both sides. You will also find a tender spot just about in the middle under the cheekbone arch- it’s about in line with the pupil. Press deeply on his spot and you may actually feel a release in sinus and/or headache pain.
So, now you have a few ideas for home treatment of headaches that seem to be brought on by sinus irritation. And of course, sinus problems, as mentioned earlier, may be just one component of the myriad of symptoms you experience when you get a headache. Whether you have a true sinus headache or are just experiencing pressure in this area, the above suggestions may help.
Paying attention to your body during pollen season is just one more step in becoming “Headache Free…Naturally.”